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Air quality project to help identify best monitoring sites

Findings from a recent air quality project will help determine the best locations for monitoring equipment so we can better measure and manage local air quality.

Council contracted NIWA to carry out the study from May to August last year, a period when air quality is usually at its worst in Gisborne. Twenty new sensors called ODINs – Outdoor Dust Information Nodes, were installed around the city to capture air quality readings and highlight the most polluted areas. Samples were collected every five minutes for the duration of the project.

The National Environmental Standards for Air Quality (NESAQ) set a minimum level of health protection for New Zealanders. Councils are required to monitor levels of Particulate Matter of less than10 micrometres in diameter (PM10) to meet the set health protection levels.

Council has had three regulatory monitoring sites for air quality since the early 1990s.

While not suitable for regulatory purposes, the low cost ODINs allowed Council to undertake monitoring at more sites across the city and help identify where the highest concentrations of pollutants are, as required by the air quality standards.

The data confirmed variability in air quality around the city. It recorded poor air quality on several nights in Whataupoko and Inner Kaiti, largely due to coal and wood fires. Other areas did not experience the same high levels of particulate matter.

Breathing in these tiny suspended smoke particles can be harmful when larger deposits (between 2.5 and 10 micrometres) end up in the airways, lungs or even enter the bloodstream.

Households can help improve air quality by ensuring they use suitable, dry firewood (not treated timber) and keep chimneys cleaned and maintained.

Here is more information about air quality in our Tairawhiti Resource Management Plan.


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